In 1883, the Ottoman government granted a tobacco monopoly to a foreign company called the Régie. The Régie opened its largest factory in the Cibali district of Istanbul in 1884. Nacar’s study examines strikes and unionization efforts in the Cibali factory at the turn of the century. It argues that the labor movement in the factory reached its peak in 1911 when some 2,000 workers launched what would be one of the longest strikes in late Ottoman history. This long strike was ultimately defeated and the labor movement in the factory quickly lost momentum. A close examination of the strike, however, shows that none of these developments were inevitable. In the spring of 1911, the strikers were so well organized that the Régie’s various attempts to break their ranks remained futile. Moreover, they were not isolated in their battle. Workers in different provinces and sectors and politicians publicly expressed support for the strike. This article suggests that had the efforts of the strikers and their supporters could have resulted in a favorable settlement for workers, both in and outside the Cibali factory, and that the labor movement might have taken a different direction.
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Can Nacar; The Régie Monopoly and Tobacco Workers in Late Ottoman Istanbul. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2014; 34 (1): 206–219. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2648668
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